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By
Sarah Ward

Craft Beer Food Pairing: 6 Best Craft and IPA Beer Pairings

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A craft beer food pairing or IPA beer food pairing is an opportunity to find the nuances of a beer and match them. A beer food pairing in general is a good idea for restaurants, breweries, and bar business plans. They increase customer satisfaction and give you the chance to amplify your drinks and dishes on your menu types

In this BinWise blog post, we walk you through some classic craft beer food pairing options and IPA beer food pairing choices. We’ll avoid specific name-brands, as the type of beer is more important. If you have a favorite craft or IPA beer, add it to your own list after reading this post.

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Craft Beer Food Pairing

Craft beer holds a special place in the heart of many beer lovers. From beer brands to craft beer food pairing options and flights, craft beer has a lot to offer. It’s been around for a while. It has grown quite a following of people who want their beer to have a nice amount of personality. 

These three classic types of craft beer are always a good choice if you’re new to craft beer, or you’re looking for something familiar. These craft beer food pairing choices will give you a new way to appreciate all these craft options. 

3. German Pilsner and Cheese Pretzels

A German pilsner is a light-bodied, lager-style craft beer. It pairs well with cheese pretzels, and it’s not exclusive to one type of cheese. Our top recommendation is a salted soft pretzel with a mozzarella cheese dipping sauce. 

2. Blonde Ale and Salads

Blonde ale is one of the lightest beers in the craft beer category. It can mix with any salad. If you prefer a leafy green salad with veggies on top, blonde ale will pair well. If you like a crunchy salad with some sushi-inspiration, you guessed it, blonde ale will still work. 

1. American Lager and Spicy Stir-Fry

American lagers are a light, bubbly, slightly grainy and fruity, all-around well situated craft beer. A spicy stir-fry with your choice of vegetables, some protein, and an orange, teriyaki, or soy sauce will be a great pairing. 

IPA Beer Food Pairing

An IPA beer food pairing often gets lumped together with craft beer food pairing options. IPAs have a higher ABV, like many craft beers. They also have a tendency to be craft beers. We’ve kept them separate on this list because IPAs are such a unique beer. They deserve a pairing list all to themselves. 

For these three IPA beer food pairing suggestions, we’ve chosen IPA types that are classic favorites. If you have a favorite brand or bottle within these categories you can bet it’ll also pair well. If you’re new to IPA, these favorites are a good place to start your experience. 

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3. English IPA and Fajitas

An English IPA is a stronger version of a classic IPA. It’s bold. It’s sure to surprise your taste buds if you haven’t tried it before. It needs a strong pairing. Fajitas are perfect. When you’re pairing an English IPA with fajitas, you want them to be spicy fajitas. This will give you the balance you need for the English IPA, as well as the complementary flavors. 

2. East Coast IPA and Fried Cheese Curds

An east coast IPA is one of the IPAs that is initially sweeter, then bitter as the taste develops in your mouth. It’s a unique IPA that pairs well with an unexpected food flavor. That’s where fried cheese curds come in handy. Plain fried curds will do the trick. However, we recommend having fried cheese curds with some spice. A jalapeño addition is suited to this pairing. 

1. Triple IPA and Ginger Chocolate Cake

A triple IPA is one of the strongest IPA options. It typically has around 10% ABV or more. It’s also heavy on malt and hops flavors. It needs a rich pairing to draw out each aspect of this intense beer. A ginger chocolate cake is the ticket. A decadent chocolate cake with some ginger–freshly squeezed–mixed in will enhance your triple IPA choice. You can’t go wrong.

"Key Takeaway: A craft beer food pairing or IPA beer food pairing is an opportunity to find the nuances of a beer and match them with delicious foods."

Frequently Asked Questions About Craft and IPA Pairings

Craft and IPA food pairings inspire a lot of questions. These beers are often strong, bold, and unmatched in many ways. How do you match them up with foods? Well, there are a lot of answers to these questions. Our answers to these frequently asked questions will help you learn even more about food pairings for craft and IPA beer options. 

What Food Goes Well With Craft Beer?

Some of the best foods to pair with craft beer include:

  • Cheese
  • Cured meats
  • Oysters
  • Chocolate
  • Curry
  • Sushi
  • Chips and dip
  • Pizza
  • Burgers
  • Steak
  • Wings

Of course, these won’t all pair with every craft beer. As you experiment, you’ll find even more combinations and learn what works for you. If you’re a bar owner or manager, you can test sample menus–use a single use menu or a QR code menu–to see what your customers most enjoy.

What Food Do IPAs Pair With?

The foods that IPAs pair with include a variety of strong, often spice foods. Those can be:

  • Tacos
  • Thai food
  • Barbecue food
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Rib eye steak
  • Fish and chips
  • Ceviche
  • Fish tacos
  • Indian food
  • Calzones

Those are a few more specific examples. When you’re creating an IPA beer food pairing, stick with strong, spicy flavors. A sharp cheese is always a good idea. Something with an unexpected spicy aftertaste will draw out the depth of the beer. 

What Food Doesn’t Go With Beer?

The foods that don’t go well with beer are mainly about flavor and the effect the pairing will have on your comfort. One pair to avoid too much of is bread. Yes, we know it’s delicious, and there’s nothing wrong with having a slice of pizza with your beer. 

If you want to feel good afterwards, however, avoid too much bread. The combination of bread and beer will leave you feeling upset with your stomach. 

Another option to avoid is mixing sweet fruits with beer. For the most part it isn’t going to pair with beer. When’s the last time you had an IPA and some watermelon and thought “Yum!”? If you’re a fruit fanatic, stick with light beer that is low on hop. Save most fruits for your summer cocktails

What Finger Food Goes Well With Beer?

The best finger foods to pair with beer include:

  • Chips and dip
  • Sausages
  • Fries
  • Chicken wings
  • Jalapeño poppers
  • Sliders
  • Nachos
  • Salted nuts
  • Pizza
  • Fish and chips
  • Kebabs
  • Onion rings
  • Stuffed mushrooms

Appetizer menus are full of options that will mix well with your favorite beer. If you’re creating a menu for your bar or restaurant, keep these pairings in mind for your cool bar food ideas. Your appetizers should complement the drinks you’re serving. 

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Craft and IPA Pairings: Crafting a Food and Beer Pair

Craft and IPA beer and food pairings are a great way for craft breweries to draw in customers. They also help people who are new to craft beer and IPAs discover the joy of these unique drinks. There will always be more to learn and more pairings to experiment with, but these lists are a good place to start. 

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